Are you having issues with PPE compliance? Maybe your PPE inventory is difficult to manage and you experience frequent stockouts. Maybe employees just can’t be bothered retrieving their PPE because it’s dispersed in an inconvenient way. Maybe you’re paying way too much and getting far too little benefit. Maybe what you need is a better way to manage your PPE program.
If you’re looking for an efficient way to both manage your PPE inventory and disperse it to your employees, a PPE vending machine program may be the perfect solution. A PPE vending program can ensure your PPE is ready, available, and convenient for your workers. It can eliminate stockouts, reduce your inventory requirements, and provide you with better visibility into what’s being used.
Well-executed programs can also result in cost savings. On average, companies that correctly implemented a PPE vending program experienced cost reductions of 25% in their PPE program.
Perhaps you’ve thought about initiating a vending program yourself, or maybe you have one but aren’t seeing the results you expected. We sat down with Heath Hazard, director of sales for Fastenal’s FAST Solutions division, to get the inside scoop on what it takes to execute a successful PPE vending program.
Having spent more than a decade with Fastenal and the last year as a director with FAST Solutions, Hazard is an expert in safety and well-versed in what it takes to build a successful PPE vending program.
“What a lot of companies don’t realize when starting a PPE vending program is that it’s crucial to select the right partner,” said Hazard. It’s not a plug-and-play type deal, it really is a partnership and takes commitment from both sides to build a successful program. All PPE vending companies offer basically the same model of vending machine, how we differ is in the level of service and support provided – and that can make or break a program,” says Hazard.
Whether you’re still in the consideration stage for your PPE vending program or looking to revamp your current program, here are Hazard’s top five tips for creating – and sustaining – a successful PPE vending program:
- Choose the Right Partner
- Do Your Homework
- Get Employee Buy-In
- Appoint a Champion
- Always Push for Continuous Improvement
1. Choose the Right Partner
Your company is not like any other – why should your PPE program be the same as anyone else’s? When it comes to PPE vending suppliers, there are a plethora of options from DIY options (basically you can buy a vending machine from them) to full-service partners such as Fastenal.
The advantage of a DIY solution is of course that once you purchase the vending machine your financial commitment ends. However, going it alone can cost you a lot more in the long run. A vending machine doesn’t magically replenish itself; it has to be restocked, forecasts need to be made, orders need to be placed, the program needs to be continually adapted, etc. Depending on the size of your operation, managing your PPE vending program can be a job in and of itself, and many companies would rather concentrate their efforts on what they do best.
A full-service PPE vending program is exactly what it sounds like – a fully serviced PPE vending program that is managed for you by your supplier. The advantage here, of course, is that it’s a completely hands-off process allowing you to focus on what you do best knowing your PPE program will be taken care of. When selecting a full-service provider, it’s imperative you choose a provider who will truly be your partner. Select someone who shares the same values as you and the same vision for your program. This will ensure a successful working relationship and the results you want.
As Hazard says, “Look for the team behind the machine.”
2. Do Your Homework
Before getting into a PPE vending program, Hazard recommends performing a strategic analysis of your operations to identify where the problems are in your supply chain (if any) and what challenges your organization is facing. This information will help you to determine A) if a PPE vending program is the right choice for your company, and B) if it is the right choice, what type of program you’ll need.
Certain PPE vending solution providers will work with you during this process to help you choose the best program for your needs. Fastenal goes a step further and prepares a customized solution for each customer that matches their specific needs.
“We perform a strategic analysis of each of our customers,” says Hazard. “To ensure they get the most out of their program we have to know what isn’t working currently – and a lot of times, the companies don’t even know. They know they’re having a problem with compliance or that their inventory costs are too high, but they don’t know the root cause of those problems. Once we understand how that particular business works and figure out what isn’t working and why, then we’re able to customize a PPE vending solution that will generate the results they’re looking for.”
3. Get Employee Buy-In
Much like any program, if the people who are using it don’t buy into it, you’re not going to have much success. PPE vending programs are no different. If you don’t provide your employees with a clear WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) proposition, you won’t see the results you’re expecting.
If your employees are involved with program development from the beginning and have a clear understanding of the benefits the program provides them, they will have ownership in the program and be more invested in seeing it succeed. Conversely, employees who are kept in the dark and have the program sprung on them with little to no explanation may not see the importance or the benefits and compliance could suffer.
4. Appoint a Champion
There are two reasons to appoint a Champion for your PPE vending program. The first is to help with getting employee buy-in. If you choose someone who has the authority to drive compliance but can also connect with your employees, you are more likely to achieve true buy-in from your employees and experience success with your program.
The second reason to have a Champion is to appoint someone who is committed to learning all about the program and continually pushing for ways to improve (more on this next).
These roles don’t have to be filled by the same person – you can have multiple Champions. For instance, if you have several job sites, consider finding a Champion for each one.
5. Always Push for Continuous Improvement
If you view your PPE vending program as simply a vending machine, you won’t get the results you want out of the program. Hazard compares it to upgrading your flip phone to a smartphone but only using it for talk and text. There’s no added benefit if you don’t learn how to take advantage of everything the smartphone can do for you – the same is true of your PPE vending program. If you simply install the machine and forget about it, you’re not going to see the results you want.
To see the cost savings and productivity boost that can come with a successful PPE vending program, you’ll need to work with your supplier to make continuous improvements. For instance, optimizing the placement of your vending machines to make it as convenient as possible for employees to retrieve their PPE, no matter where they are on the job site.
Getting Your PPE Vending Program Started
For more information on PPE vending programs and how your business can benefit, please click on the link to visit FAST Solutions’ website.
To speak with Heath Hazard directly about developing a customized program, please email [email protected].
Fastenal helps customers simplify and realize product and process savings across their supply chain. We sell a broad offering of products spanning nine major product lines – from fasteners and tools to safety and janitorial supplies. These products are efficiently distributed to manufacturing facilities, job sites, and other customer locations through local service teams and point-of-use inventory solutions, including industrial vending technology and bin stock programs (Fastenal Managed Inventory, or FMI®). Our distribution system centers on approximately 3,100 in-market locations (a combination of public branches and customer-specific Onsite locations), primarily in North America but also in Asia, Europe, and Central and South America, each providing tailored inventory, flexible service, and custom solutions to drive the unique goals of local customers. These in-market servicing locations are supported by 14 regional distribution centers, a captive logistics fleet, robust sourcing, quality, and manufacturing resources, and multiple teams of industry specialists and support personnel – all working toward Fastenal’s common goal of Growth Through Customer Service®.